Category Archives: Make Me Human

Letter From the Editor: Sorry for my Absence and Sometimes Love Really Does Last a Lifetime


Hello Dear Readers,

I just wanted to let you know that I have been super busy these past few weeks with Real Life responsibilities…ugh!! So no worries, I haven’t abandoned this blog. 🙂 I have been doing Human Rights’ presentations for universities and working on a website…all with the goal of boosting my resume so that when I apply to these fellowships in NYC, I will trick them into thinking I am a qualified candidate. 🙂 I promise to return soon with more tantalizing erotic tales and more heart warming poetry.

Until then… I will leave you with some pics that always makes me believe in finding love again and with the hope that sometimes love really does last a lifetime.

You are never too old to find the the one!

This story is my favorite!! The man is 104 years old and his wife is 100 years old. They have been married for 81 years. They are very poor and he has never seen his wife in a wedding dress, so when this picture was taken, it was the first time she wore one. They were both so overwhelmed. He hugged her and said that she is still beautiful to him. 🙂

Never Too Old To Dream


She picks up her pencil and starts to take notes. She looks around the room at unfamiliar faces…younger faces…and struggles to pay attention as the professor lectures on, in a language that is natively, not her own.

After escaping a war-torn country, adapting to a new culture, raising 5 children into adulthood, and working the last 15 years on the assembly line level of a company that does not realize her worth…she finally decided to pursue her own dreams.

She spent the last 2 years writing a memoir, with only the hopes and dreams that the outside world would value her struggles as much as she did. At the beginning of this year, she sent off numerous manuscripts, with only a simple prayer. Her hopes and dreams became a reality when among the numerous “nos”, one publishing company finally said “yes.” Only in her dreams did she imagine that her memoir would not only be published, but that she would be asked to do a book signing, and that there would already be a pre-order of 1,000 books.

Today she is making another dream a reality. While others were getting teary eyed wishing their kids off to school…I was getting teary eyed wishing my mother “good luck” on her first day back at school…in 39 years!! She is 54 years old and starting Adult Education Classes at the 5th grade level…and I have never been more proud of her.

She has taught me a lot of life lessons, including the fact that…it is never to late to pursue your dreams and sometimes dreams really do come true!

For more on her story: My Mother, My Hero

Your last breath… (In memory of H’Katherine and John)


Waves and tides are like the heartbeat of the ocean,

So the rivers, lakes and streams must be its bloodline.

How ironic is it, that you took your last breath among the waves.

They say we are made of dirt and so to dirt we shall return,

Yet are we not about 75% water and is it not water that must sustain us.

So if we are made of water, thus it is only right that to water we shall return

As you two did…

Death does not take only the dying.

Sometimes it takes the living, those very happy, those on the brink of their dreams, and yes, even those very young.

In life there are seasons

And everything does happen for a reason,

But it is only the living and the loved ones left behind

That can’t comprehend the “why.”

You two were loved beyond any words that could ever be expressed.

The church was standing room only.

Family and friends came from all over the state.

People sung songs, girls were bows in their hair in your remembrance, and memories were shared.

Your lives were short but your impact on others was strong.

You took your last breath among the waves

And you were buried below tear soaked flowers.

Best friends and cousins…together at the end…forever.

The fear of drowning is one of the most paralyzing fears in the human mind.

But I sometimes wonder, if after all the struggle

There’s a sense of peace at the end.

And I wonder if, before you closed your eyes forever,

The view was as beautiful as this…

RIP H’Katherine and John.

“All rivers, even the most dazzling, even those that catch the sun in their course…all rivers go down to the ocean and drown. And life awaits us, as the sea awaits the river.” – Simone Schwarz-Bart

 

For more information on the tragedy,visit:

http://triad.news14.com/content/local_news/660890/raleigh-police-identify-children-drowned-in-neuse-river

http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news%2Flocal&id=8738329

http://www.wral.com/news/video/11320717/#/vid11320717

http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news%2Flocal&id=8744326

There’s One Man That I Will Always Love…and Who Will Never Break My Heart


In the midst of ups and downs and male woes that I could write a 10 book series about…there is one man who still stands out among the rest. And after 27 years…he is still the best. My father is one of the strongest men out there. He left his family at the age of 19 years old, knowing that he may never see them again, to join a cause that he believed in…and that was to fight for his country. During that journey he met and fell in love with my mother, who was of a different tribe and spoke a different language…and won her over with his shy smile. And almost 29 years later…he is loving her still. He fathered 5 children…while working numerous jobs, learning English, and getting his degree.

My father is not the richest man…he is not the smartest man…he is not the strongest man…but he has taught me more about life, then the richest, smartest, or strongest man ever could.

He has taught me that you can start a new life with not a penny to your name. My father came to the United States with absolutely NO money and NO connections. He started working right away and made $5 a DAY!! He now owns his own home, car, put himself through community college, maintains a steady job, and still managed to put 3 children through higher education. If my father has achieved this much from so little…I know that money is not an obstacle unless you make it one.

He has taught me that knowledge is power and it’s the type of power that no one can take away from you. If you don’t have the knowledge, then you do what you need to do, to achieve that knowledge. My father may not have an architect’s degree, but he helped build his own home. He may not have a mechanic’s license, but my father knows how to fix everything from an oil filter change to spare parts. My father may not be an agricultural specialist, but his little garden grows everything that can be found at the grocery store. He may not have a linguistic degree, but he speaks 6 languages: Rade, Jarai, Vietnamese, French, English and Thai. And I could go on and on. I wonder how many people with PhD’s could compete with a man who holds knowledge as vast as my father’s.

He has taught me that strength is not found in height, muscle, or weight….it is found in the heart. I believe that the heart is the strongest muscle in the human body. It is the only thing that can break over and over again…and not only endures, but grows stronger afterward.  He has seen his country fall, his comrades die, and lost his family and friends at a young age. But he has grown to love another country, made new friends, and been the father that he never had. I hope I inherited half the heart that my father has.

So HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to my Ama (father) and all the other father’s just like him!!

 

Memorial Day…The Real Meaning


Memorial day is more than the beginning of the “summer season” or another excuse for a 3 day weekend. It is more than just beach time, or “bike week”, or a cook out. It is about remembering the men and women who gave their life in the United States Armed Services. And there are plenty of ways to honor them. Thanks to the internet, you can easily search “memorial day” and your city, state and find plenty to do. Please take the time to thank the men and women who have served, are serving, and will serve.

And because pictures are worth more than a thousand words…

The story of America’s quest for freedom is inscribed on her history in the blood of her patriots. -Randy Vader

The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example. – Benjamin Disraeli

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. -John F. Kennedy

And they who for their country die shall fill an honored grave, for glory lights the soldier’s tomb, and beauty weeps the brave.  ~Joseph Drake

Although no sculptured marble should rise to their memory, nor engraved stone bear record of their deeds, yet will their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored.  ~Daniel Webster

Four things support the world: the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the good, and the valor of the brave
– Muhammad

We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them. – Francis A. Walker

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. – Joseph Campbell

And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free, and I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me and I’ll proudly stand next to him to defend her still today, ‘cuz there ain’t no doubt I love this land, god bless the USA. -Lee Greenwood

 

Update: Amendment One Passed by Voters in NC


Sooo, the results are in and 40% of the citizens of North Carolina are upset, frustrated, sad and/or [insert the obligatory angry adjective here] and the other 60% are [insert appropriate adjective here]. This state is the 30th state to institute a ban on gay marriage and other types of domestic partnerships will likely no longer be recognized. I just really don’t understand how discriminatory laws like this can still occur in 2012…

I don’t understand  because there is this concept called a “fundamental right”…where something is so fundamental to our idea of humanity that it transcends the legal system.  These fundamental rights are considered so important, that any law restricting it must pass strict scrutiny (where the state must show a compelling governmental interest that is narrowly tailored to meet that interest).

The United States Supreme Court has legally recognized 3 main fundamental rights, which include:

1) the right to travel

2) the right to vote, and

3) the right to privacy, which includes:

a. the right to procreation,

b. the right to an abortion during the first trimester,

c. the right to private education,

d. the right to contraception,

e. the right of family relations, and last but not least,

f. the right to marry

But I guess the right to marry is not a fundamental right… if you are a homosexual. I guess because homosexual love is wrong and “threatens” the sanctity of heterosexual love. Because you know, the marriage between a man and a woman is the “right” kind of love, and it is everlasting and never abusive and never ends in divorce. And homosexuals are the root of all evil and the cause of moral turpitude and war, famine, and natural disasters. (And in case you didn’t know…you were supposed to read this paragraph in your sarcastic voice).

Or what if you are someone like myself…who is not a homosexual…but who will most likely not have a “traditional” marriage, which from the illustration above proves that, what is considered a “traditional marriage” changes with time. What if I really wanted to be a co-parent and adopt…because I honestly don’t see myself getting married to a man within the next 3 years and I want to be a parent soon. I am seriously having “iwannabeamommy” syndrome going on right now. And she would be the perfect mother…I know it. She is soo good with kids and she is so “motherly”…she loves to take care of others, and cook, and clean, and do laundry, and take them to doctor appointments. And we would adopt a little girl, with honey brown skin and thick black hair. We would adopt her from Asia or the Middle East and save her from being a sex slave, or seen as the property of a man, or a life of poverty. The little girl would grow up to be smart, and beautiful, and strong, and independent because both of her mothers are …and we would remind her every day about her worth as a woman and most importantly that she is loved. And now I’m going to stop before I make myself cry…

And again, I am not a lesbian but I know that I would rather have a family with a woman who loves and accepts me for me. She makes me feel more beautiful than any man ever could because she is not telling me bullshit just to get in my pants (and NO we don’t get down like that). And she accepts the fact that I am ADD and OCD and slightly paranoid. She accepts and actually encourages my delusional love for Jeremy Lin (who I would marry and have all 10 of his children) and she doesn’t leave the toilet seat up when she uses the bathroom and she doesn’t fart in her sleep or try to molest me in bed and I know she isn’t going to wake up one morning and tell me I am fat and ugly. And most importantly she has been by my side longer than ANY man ever has. So we have decided that we are getting the hell out of this state and starting over elsewhere. And hopefully along the way we will both fall in love and marry amazing men…but if not, we still have each other. And if I feel this way about a woman I am not even romantically in love with, then I can’t even imagine what people are feeling, who are.

 

NC’s Amendment 1 a.k.a. Marriage Protection Amendment – What you NEED to know


North Carolina has received national attention because of Amendment 1. There has been soooo much coverage on this matter, that I thought it would be overkill to write a post on it…but since the latest poll data suggests that there are still more Amendment 1 supporters than there are opposers…I figured my 2 cents may actually make a difference. A poll done by Public Policy Polling, on May 1, shows that 55% of people polled still plan to vote in favor of the Amendment, while only 43% plan to vote against it. Another poll done by the Civitas Institute, conducted April 30 through May 2, supports the finding that there are more supporters of the Amendment. They asked register voters, “Do you support or oppose a constitutional amendment that says: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State?” The responses are as follows:

DEMOCRATIC/UNAFILLIATED VOTERS IN DEM PRIMARY

48% Total Support

44% Total Oppose

41% Strongly Support

7% Somewhat Support

6% Somewhat Oppose

38% Strongly Oppose

7% Don’t Know/ No Opinion (DO NOT READ)

1% Refused (DO NOT READ)

REPUBLICAN/UNAFILLIATED VOTERS IN REP PRIMARY

78% Total Support

15% Total Oppose

72% Strongly Support

7% Somewhat Support

3% Somewhat Oppose

12% Strongly Oppose

6% Don’t Know/ No Opinion (DO NOT READ)

I truly believe one reason why there are so many supporters is because North Carolina citizens do not understand what supporting this Amendment really entails. On election day, this is how the Amendment will read on your ballot: If this amendment passes then it will have the effect of amending Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution, by adding Section 6. Marriage, which will read as follows: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the ONLY domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

For those of you who didn’t catch it the first time…read it again. “Marriage” is the ONLY “domestic legal union” that shall be valid in the state of NC. So what does a “domestic legal union” really mean?? No one really knows because this is not a legal term and it has not yet been defined…or in other words, the term is vague and overbroad. Litigation over the meaning of this phrase could take YEARS to resolve because it has never been used in any prior NC statutory law or court holdings. In fact, this phrase has never been interpreted in any courts in any other states!! Because this phrase is so unclear, this amendment not only affects same-sex couples, this amendment could also affect any unmarried heterosexual couple as well.

For an amendment that is so unclear…it’s affects could be devastating to NC’s unmarried couples. It could have the effect of invalidating domestic partnership insurance benefits, making domestic violence even more harmful, harm the best interest of a child to unmarried parents, and limiting protections for unmarried couples. It may also have the effect of limiting economic growth to NC, which in turn could affect jobs. And I won’t even go into arguments of discrimination against a minority group or what this could do to the rise of hate crimes against homosexuals.

This amendment could invalidate domestic partnership insurance benefits. Four local governments, the Town of Tarrboro, Town of Chapel Hill, City of Durham, and County of Orange, offers insurance benefits to both same-sex and heterosexual domestic partners and the County of Durham, City of Greensboro and County of Mecklenburg offers insurance benefits to only same-sex couples. Due to the wording in this amendment, the domestic partners benefits could be invalidated and it could prevent future benefits from being given to domestic partners, homosexual or straight.

This amendment could have a huge impact on how the courts view domestic violence.

North Carolina Statute 50B-1, Domestic Violence, states:

(b) For purposes of this section, the term “personal relationship” means a relationship wherein the parties involved:
(1) Are current or former spouses;
(2) Are persons of opposite sex who live together or have lived together;
(3) Are related as parents and children, including others acting in loco parentis to a minor child, or as grandparents and grandchildren. For purposes of this subdivision, an aggrieved party may not obtain an order of protection against a child or grandchild under the age of 16;
(4) Have a child in common;
(5) Are current or former household members;
(6) Are persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been in a dating relationship. For purposes of this subdivision, a dating relationship is one wherein the parties are romantically involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship. A casual acquaintance or ordinary fraternization between persons in a business or social context is not a dating relationship.

Because the statute affords protections to unmarried couples, you would hope that this will not change if Amendment 1 passes, but if Ohio (which passed a similar amendment) is any indication, then Amendment 1 could limit protections only to victims who had been married to their abusers. It took THREE years before the Ohio Supreme Court decided that their domestic violence protections did not violate their constitutional amendment and before this decision was made, there were about 27 dismissals and reversals of convictions ordered by the lower courts, because the state felt they could not extend domestic violence protections to unmarried victims.

This amendment could harm the best interest of a child conceived by unmarried parents. The Catholic Voice of NC (supporters of Amendment 1), states that the government should be involved in marriage to protect children. In fact, the opposite could happen. If this amendment passes, then a judge may view a same-sex or unmarried couple as having a negative impact on a child and because of this, limit custody, visitation rights and prevent adoptions. And as stated earlier…if unmarried couples lose insurance through their job because of their unmarried status, then this will also mean more children will lose their health insurance benefits.

This amendment limits protections for unmarried couples. Currently, unmarried couples can provide protections for their partner, such as with a power of attorney and a living will. But if Amendment 1 gets passed, then courts could decide that these documents recognize a “domestic legal union” between unmarried couples, which would be considered unconstitutional.  This in turn, can invalidate wills, trusts, hospital visitation, and medical decision-making between unmarried couples, as well as same-sex ones.

This amendment could limit economic growth in NC. President Obama, former President Clinton, and Senator Kay Hagan have all urged North Carolinians to vote AGAINST this amendment because it could turn away potential businesses and prevent NC from keeping good business and entrepreneurs in this state. On September 12, 2011, more than 75 CEOs signed a letter asking state officials to not approve this amendment. If this amendment passes, there will be at least 75 unhappy CEOs of companies, who are operating in the state of NC. If they decide to leave NC, the job loss will be devastating.

And I changed my mind…I am going to take up some more of your time and argue that Amendment 1 will also further discriminate against a minority group and justify hate crimes. Because the truth is, some people are going to hate gays the same way they hate blacks or foreigners, etc. but the last thing you want to do is give them a law that is going to support their prejudicial ways. Case in point: NC pastor Sean Harris, who advocates using violence to prevent children from becoming gay…seriously?!

I’m sure this post may not make any difference to some people. But if it informed one person, then it was worth spending 2 hours writing on a Saturday night (#nerdforlife). Don’t forget to vote Tuesday, May 8th!!!!

Please visit these sites for more information (in the order they appear in this post):

Public Policy Polling. http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2012/05/marriage-amendment-still-leads-by-14.html

Civitas Institute. http://www.wwaytv3.com/2012/05/03/poll-nc-marriage-amendment-has-strong-lead-final-week

Ballot Pedia. NC Carolina Same-Sex Marriage (May 2012). http://www.ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/North_Carolina_Same-Sex_Marriage,_Amendment_1_(May_2012)

The News & Record, Marriage amendment redundant and vague (April 30, 2012). http://www.news-record.com/content/2012/04/27/article/marriage_amendment_redundant_and_vague

Potential Legal Impact of the Proposed Domestic Legal Union Amendment to the North Carolina Constitution (Nov. 8, 2011). http://www.law.unc.edu/documents/faculty/marriageamendment/dlureportnov8.pdf

Protect all NC families, the harmful truth about Amendment 1. http://www.protectallncfamilies.org/the-truth

The Catholic Voice of NC. http://catholicvoicenc.org/ncmarriagefaq-finalon12-1-11.pdf

Indy Weekly, Bill Clinton makes two presidents against Amendment 1 (May 5, 2012). http://www.indyweek.com/citizen/archives/2012/05/05/bill-clinton-makes-two-presidents-against-amendment-1

Wikipedia, Recognition of same-sex unions in North Carolina. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recognition_of_same-sex_unions_in_North_Carolina#cite_note-amendment_one-2

The Huffington Post, North Carolina Pastor Sean Harris: Parents should “punch” their gay acting children , (May 2, 2012). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/01/north-carolina-pastor-sea_n_1468618.html

James’ Story: A Reflection on Kony 2012 and the LRA


The night was hot as usual, but thankfully there was a slight breeze and the mosquitoes were merciful. James was sleeping soundly in his bed…dreaming about what 8 year olds normally dream about. In the distance, there is a rustling of what sounds like a medium-sized animal creeping towards the village. Suddenly, a scream of alarm breaks the silence, followed by a chorus of other screams…but these screams are no longer of surprise, but rather of terror and cries of anguish. The once peaceful night is no more.

Before he can fully comprehend what is going on, James is roughly pulled out of his slumber. His night of dreaming has suddenly turned into a nightmare. Men with guns are pushing him on his feet and away from his parents. His parents try to go after him, but their efforts are useless. James is helpless as he watches his parents get executed in front of him…first his mother, and then his father.

So…what happens next? The police arrive, right? These men are arrested and sentenced to pay for their horrible murders, right? The answers to both of these questions are “no”…because unfortunately for James, and thousands of other children like him, this did not happen in the United States. This happened in central Africa, where the villages are remote, there is no 911 emergency number, and where there will not be any retribution for the senseless attacks on his village or for the murders of either of his parents.

This is not a post about Joseph Kony, the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army), or the Sudanese government…it is about James and the thousands of children like him. The thousands of children who were forced to take arms, to kill their parents, to kill other civilians, and watched as people were mutilated. They lost their homes, their siblings, and their childhoods. These children will no longer dream the same dreams.

I know some of you are thinking…this is “old” news by now but the sad thing is, there are still so many people in this world who have never heard of Joseph Kony or the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army).  I was going to let this topic pass me by, but with the recent arrest of George Clooney on March the 16th, during a protest against the Sudanese government (this arrest was unrelated to Kony or the LRA) and after watching the movie, Machine Gun Preacher (2011), starring Gerard Butler, this week…I just could not stop thinking about the atrocities happening half a world away.

Before you shake your head, I already know the criticism that comes with this situation. I know the main argument is, what can the United States do? This is not our battle to fight and the U.S. does not have any interests in Sub-Saharan Africa, except for concerns regarding oil. I agree with that concern, but isn’t the value of human life more important than the value of oil. Are we just supposed to sit back and let the mass killings of innocent civilians go unpunished…especially after we are aware of it.

Another argument is that, the crimes against children have been exaggerated. Invisible Children claims there have been about 30,000 children abducted while Machine Gun Preacher claims there are about 40,000 children abducted. My argument is, isn’t even 1,000 children, just one too many. I’ve heard how Kony is in hiding and how the LRA have dwindled to an army of only a few hundred soldiers, but regardless these men are still responsible, it doesn’t matter if there are only three of them left. And should we now teach war criminals that if they hide long enough, the world will forget about them and no longer pursue them?

The NGOs have also been scrutinized for the way they have been dispersing funds. As an advocate myself, who does work for a non-profit organization, I can tell you first hand, that it is not cheap to travel to D.C. and that funds do have to be allocated for travel and meal expenses. But you don’t have to donate to these organizations to make a difference. Spreading news by word of mouth is free. You can make your own posters and t-shirts. Calling and writing your district representatives and senators costs little in time and money. Yes, the U.S. government is made up of the few, the rich, the elite…but they are always aware of public opinion polls and key word computer searches are always tracked. I do believe there is power in numbers and when the general public act as one voice, there is a better chance that voice will be heard.

I honestly do not think that Kony will be captured in 2012 nor do I think that the U.S. will do more than they already have, which consist of deploying 100 combat-equipped U.S. troops to Central Africa in November of 2011. With this being an election year, I also do not think President Obama or the Republican nominee will want to introduce the thought of another foreign war funded by American money and American troops.

But still…I truly do believe in the power of emotions. I believe that stories like James’, Jacobs’ (from the Kony 2010 video), and so many others like them should be heard and acknowledged. While I don’t have the solutions, I know that most people feel that anyone who commits a crime against humanity should be punished and because the heart usually wins over the mind, despite all the concerns I voiced above, I think that with public pressure and awareness, Kony and others like him, will one day answer for all they have done.

If you are unfamiliar with Joseph Kony or the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) please take the time to watch these videos. They provide basic background information.

I don’t claim to know all the facts and I realize that there are so many more complex issues surrounding the crisis of North Uganda and South Sudan. These are just my thoughts on the situation. I love feedback. Please feel free to share your comments on this post below.

DISCLAIMER: I am not promoting nor am I affiliated with the Invisible Children, Machine Gun Preacher, or Amnesty International.

For more information visit:

James’ Story http://www.machinegunpreacher.org/kids-stories/

Machine Gun Preacher http://www.machinegunpreacher.org/

Invisible Children http://www.invisiblechildren.com/

LRA Crisis Tracker http://www.lracrisistracker.com/

The Ugandan Civil War and the LRA http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/lra.htm

Amnesty International http://www.amnestyusa.org/

All Africa http://allafrica.com/

All For Sport


How does it feel, man child

To bring the beasts of the earth down

To watch them fall to their knees

As if begging you to spare their life.

Do you feel powerful, holding a weapon

So deadly that it pierces muscle…

Made for running from predators,

Jaws with a 5,000 pound bite force,

And trunks strong enough to lift trees from their roots.

Do you know that they were once mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters

That they once hunted, fought, loved, and walked the ground with footsteps so heavy

It shook the earth upon which you now stand, aiming your gun.

As these beautiful creatures gave to you their last breath,

Did you notice the color of their eyes,

The curve of the water buffalo’s horns,

Did you count the spots on the civet’s fur coat,

Did you appreciate the width of the elephant’s ears…

Or did you simply cut off it’s tail

And pose for a picture.